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April 7, 2018 - September 16, 2018

¡Murales Rebeldes!

L.A. Chicana/o Murals under Siege

¡Murales Rebeldes! presents stories of eight Chicana/o murals that were censored, neglected, whitewashed, and even destroyed. They are a small fraction of the hundreds of murals under siege. Their fates represent a larger issue: without protection and advocacy, Chicana/o murals—a cornerstone of Los Angeles’s cultural and historical heritage—remain imperiled. We celebrate these important works of public art in the hope that Los Angeles will flourish as mural capital once again.

¡Murales Rebeldes!—L.A. Chicana/o Murals under Siege

Los Angeles was once the mural capital of the world.

Thousands of murals were painted here—and in nearby cities and counties—in the late twentieth century, most of them by Chicana/o artists. Many appeared as part of el movimiento, the Chicana/o civil rights movement. These works challenged what some people believed about art and society.

Instead of working alone, Chicana/o artists often invited community members to help plan and paint. More than decoration, their murals conveyed powerful messages. They called attention to unequal treatment of Mexicans and Mexican Americans; celebrated Chicana/o heritage, history, and neighborhoods; and expressed pride and power. Such qualities threatened people in positions of authority and many responded negatively, endangering Chicana/o murals.

¡Murales Rebeldes! presents stories of eight Chicana/o murals that were censored, neglected, whitewashed, and even destroyed. They are a small fraction of the hundreds of murals under siege. Their fates represent a larger issue: without protection and advocacy, Chicana/o murals—a cornerstone of Los Angeles’s cultural and historical heritage—remain imperiled. We celebrate these important works of public art in the hope that Los Angeles will flourish as mural capital once again.

Mural detail, Fountain Valley Mural c. 1976
A scene depicting a young Chicano’s arrest by police dressed in riot gear led to a controversy with the Fountain Valley Police Department. During the dispute that followed, someone threw a bucket of white paint at the scene. O’Cadiz chose to keep the white paint on the mural as a permanent mark of opposition and evidence of the controversy.
Private collection of the O'Cadiz Family

Sergio O’Cadiz Moctezuma, Fountain Valley Mural, 1974–1976
In 1974, Sergio O’Cadiz and community members painted a mural for the Mexican American neighborhood of Colonia Juarez on a wall more than 600 feet long. When a controversial scene resulted in the loss of financial support, the mural could not be completed with a protective sealing. Over time, it deteriorated until the city destroyed and replaced the wall.
Private collection of the O’Cadiz Family

Mural detail, Chicana/o Youth, c. 1976
O’Cadiz designed more than 25 scenes illustrating Colonia Juarez’s heritage. They unfolded along the wall thematically: el pasado (the past), el conflicto (conflict), la rebelión (rebellion), la conciencia história (historical awareness), and la identidad (identity). The scenes included this depiction of Chicana/o youth empowered by the Chicano civil rights movement, or el movimiento.
Private collection of the O’Cadiz Family

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Presented in partnership with with LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, ¡Murales Rebeldes! is an exhibition and companion publication exploring the way in which Chicana/o murals in the greater Los Angeles area have been whitewashed, censored, neglected, and even destroyed.

Through photography, sketches, related art works, and ephemera, ¡Murales Rebeldes! tells the stories of murals—by artists Barbara Carrasco, Sergio O’Cadiz Moctezuma, Yreina Cervántez and Alma López, Roberto Chavez, Willie Herrón III, East Los Streetscapers, and Ernesto de la Loza—whose messages were almost lost forever.

¡Murales Rebeldes! was organized by the California Historical Society and La Plaza de Cultura Y Artes as part of the Getty’s 2017 Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative—a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles from September 2017 to January 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California.

Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA Logo Block